Laos profile - leaders
President: Choummaly Sayasone
Choummaly Sayasone, the head of the ruling communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), was appointed by the National Assembly in 2006 and re-appointed in June 2011.
His re-appointment for another five-year term marked a continuation of the authoritarian status quo in one of the world's most tightly controlled countries.
He was the only candidate nominated by the powerful politburo of the LPRP.
He succeeded Khamtay Siphandon as president in June 2006.
He took over the party leadership from the octogenarian former president a few months earlier.
The LPRP is the only legal political party in Laos.
Mr Sayasone is seen as a staunch ally of his predecessor, who served three terms and oversaw the country's entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 1997.
Choummaly Sayasone, who was born in 1936 in southern Laos, is a former defence minister and vice president.